All things birth-day, and tomorrow, the first day of school, a new year, a new life: WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR OUR WORLD, WHAT WOULD YOU TEACH, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE BE LEARNED? And so, launched by thoughts of T.S. Eliot’s birthday tomorrow, beginnings . . . beginnings . . .

DYING MISERABLY EVERY DAY(Williams)– OR NOT: COME, MY FRIENDS, TIS NOT TOO LATE TO SEEK A NEWER WORLD (Tennyson). . .words for what e.e. cummings calls a “great happening illimitably earth” and Hafez calls “this blessed calamity.” With notes of Ta-Nehesi Coates, Ralph Ellison, Rumi, Thoreau, T.S. Eliot, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Diane Ackerman, Stanley Kunitz, Leo Lionni, and yours truly.

Even After All this time The Sun never says to the Earth, “You owe me.” Look What happens With a love like that, It lights the whole sky.

I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.

Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions.–

That’s Hafiz (1315-1390) and this is Professor Barbara Mossberg (Dr. B) with Zappa Johns (Mr. Z), welcoming you to slow down . . . you know you move too fast! Hello, PoetrySlowDown, our whole community, on this day that yes, is our son’s birthday, but also mine, too, as a mom, so let’s begin with a birthday poem, every week a little time we slow down for the news we need, the news we heed, the news without which, according to Dr. William Carlos Williams, who as a doctor in his day job should know, we die miserably every day . . . I welcome you to our listening community, all ears, alive and awake again today for new beginnings, not only birthdays here but the first day of school and the New Year in many ways and cultures. In a time of fires and floods, winds and quakes, catastrophe and disaster, the question is how do we go on, and what spirit is needed to sustain us? We reflect on the role of poetry: well, it’s our so-called good-for-nothing, but perhaps nothing but good poets who are busy seeing our world, yes, their pain, pain all around, and could despair, but in the rendering, present wrought beauty and the honoring of fraught experience, and so often, finding the hope . . . I find it extraordinary, it knocks me out, the human dealing with everything–hunger and loss and sorrow and indignation and hurt, making something out of it with words, and in the process, giving us a new way, a different way, to think, to proceed . . .

© Barbara Mossberg 2017

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